08.04.2008 - Artículo
World Health Day 2008, “Protecting health from climate change”
World Health Day on 7th April marks the founding of the World Health Organisation. This year’s theme highlights concerns that climatic and environmental change are impacting detrimentally upon human health. Humans can adapt to cope with many diverse climates, from tropical to arctic. However rapidly changing conditions and extreme weather, such as hurricanes, typhoons and torrential rains, are often associated with morbidity and loss of life and livelihoods.
Whilst in some parts of the world, the intermediate effects of climatic change, such as an increase in rainfall in mid to high latitude countries may be beneficial, the 2007 Synthesis Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that the overall impact of rising temperatures and sea levels will be overwhelmingly negative. Many of the largest global killers such as diarrhoea, protein-energy malnutrition and malaria are closely associated with weather conditions. Water bourne diseases and diseases transmitted by vectors such as mosquitoes are particularly sensitive to climatic variables. Such changes can increase the geographical range of the vector into new areas where populations lack immunity, back to areas where eradication had once been achieved or where health systems lack the capacity to respond effectively.
It is a sad irony that the impacts of climate change are particularly effecting the populations and ecosystems of the poorest regions of the world. Poverty reduces the choices that people can make to be able to cope with these effects. This leaves many people fighting to survive in environments that are harmful to human health and facing frequent and intense droughts or the risk of coastal flooding to name just some examples.
Switzerland is firmly committed to the implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. SDC, including its humanitarian aid department is aware of predictions that weather-related natural disasters and population migrations are likely to escalate. At the same time the importance of sustainable development efforts for healthy environments to protect public health is also increasing. The relevance of SDC’s pro-poor focus in development cooperation and disaster prevention is becoming further underlined. Development partners and governments are intensifying collaboration to support countries to strengthen their surveillance and health systems, communicable disease control and to strive for the rational use of diminishing water supplies. SDC employs a cross-divisional, multisectoral approach to respond effectively to these new threats to the health of the world’s population.
1.) World Health Report 2008: Protecting Health from Climate Change http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2007/pr58/en/index.html
2.) 2007 Synthesis Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr.pdf
3.) Climate Change: Quantifying the health impact at national and international levels http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2007/9789241595674_eng.pdf
4.) Scientific Fact on Climate Change, Update 2007 http://www.greenfacts.org/en/climate-change-ar4/